Dish Network in the United States has agreed to turn off its AutoHop commercial skipping feature on Fox programming until seven days after a programmes first airs. It settles four years of litigation and also resolves disputes over PrimeTime AnyTime and Transfer features and Slingbox remote viewing.
Fox and other broadcasters sued Dish Network in 2012, alleging copyright infringement and breach of contract, arguing that the commercial skipping feature threatened to destroy “the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem”.
CBS and ABC settled similar litigation in 2014 as part of broader programme distribution agreements. These also resulted in delays of three or seven before ad-skipping is enabled. NBC had a similar suit put on hold pending a resolution in the Fox case.
A district judge had previously concluded that the Dish AutoHop function and Dish Anywhere remote viewing feature did not violate copyright law. However, she said some features, like Hopper Transfers, violated contract agreements with Fox that restrict copying of programming for use outside the home.
The case was deferred but in the meantime Fox Networks Group and Dish Network agree to dismiss all pending litigation between them. As part of the settlement, the DISH AutoHop commercial-skipping functionality will not be available for owned and affiliated FOX stations until seven days after a program first airs.
It seems these matters have ultimately been resolved through commercial negotiations over channel carriage agreements rather than in the courts. As a result, it fails to establish a legal precedent. In any case, it seems viewers can continue to skip commercials manually on recorded programmes.